Saturday, May 19, 2007

The inherent technological utopianism of Digital Art is irresponsible, naive and dangerous

Magazine Submitted by mute on Wednesday, 21 January, Ewan Morrison utilityfilms AT
3. Deconstruction. Ever since Jacques Derrida pronounced that the frame (and possibly even the wall) were part of the artwork, art has been emptied of content and been transformed into a self conscious deconstruction of the history and context of art.
Artists no longer make statements, instead they 'critique the medium of representation itself'. To actually communicate without deconstructing the mode of communication that one uses shows a failure to understand the importance of the deconstructive method in contemporary art.
So-called digital artists are just too damned excited by the infinite possibilities of the medium's potential for new representation to engage with any meaningful discourse on the subject of its own limits. Digital Art does not start from the premise that language has to be taken apart; instead it is at the relatively unsophisticated stage of 'inventing' its own language. Digital Art has got to reach the limits of its own potential, roll over and die, before the post-mortem can begin.
4. Anti-teleology. The future is not a better place, as Hegel, Marx and Darwin claimed. There is a strong anti-Hegelian thrust in post-modern art which manifests itself as a distrust of the idea of 'progress' and the belief that 'the new' has positive value in itself. The notion that the future is leading us somewhere, and that technology is the tool for the emancipation of society, has been abandoned due to the failure of the modernist technological utopia and its inversion in the Holocaust, to colonialism and to the failure of teleological projects such as communism, humanism and feminism.
This is why digital artists are often accused of 'techno-fascism' by their critics. The inherent technological utopianism of Digital Art is irresponsible, naive and dangerous. Contemporary art, in contrast, is going nowhere - and proud of it. It is, after all, safer to mull over the shadows of the past than to be blinded by the brightness of a new future.

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